Wednesday, 27 August 2014

2Inspire Network Profile: Julia Smith, Co-Founder of Cre8 Sales Solutions

In this profile interview we meet Julia Smith, who is primarily a mum to two wonderful boys, swiftly followed by successful business woman and keen runner with a love of cooking – the last two go hand in hand, one cannot love cooking without some exercise thrown in.  Having worked in sales for over 20 years she is passionate about sales & marketing, and jointly owns and runs successful business development company www.cre8salessolutions.co.uk with her long term partner in crime and bestie Tracy Gilmour. 

Please tell us what is a typical business day for you?
I take my boys to school first, so it’s always a busy start to the day. A bit like breakfast networking but with two boys to get my brain activated. At 9am I am at my desk, checking my to do list and seeing what the priority is. I generally start with ticking off the number one task, which is usually the biggest and one I may not really want to do, so I cross that off first. Then it could be working on a customer campaign, going for a meeting or networking event, working on a blog or some social media, writing a tender application. There isn’t really a typical day. I finish up with collecting the boys from school.

What made you start the business and what steps did you take to start operating as a business?
When my boys were quite young, I quickly realised that whilst I was working part time, I didn’t have the flexibility I really needed to be the kind of mum I wanted to. I also didn’t have the ability to progress further in my job whilst working part time. So self employment seemed like the logical choice. I started off by going to business events that were for mums in business to get inspiration and ideas, then other business events. I became a sponge and sucked up as much information as I could, before writing a long list of business ideas, and checking out every one before settling on working in sales & marketing, because it’s what I knew best and felt passionate about.

What would you say has been your greatest accomplishment in the business world to date?
How much I have grown as a person; growing a business grows you. Over 4 years I seem to have completely reinvented myself. It’s quite incredible the difference really, and my potential and comfort zone seems to stretch with each passing day. Also every day how I am able to be there for my children whilst being successful in business, loving what I do and providing an income for my family all at the same time. It feels amazing J

What has been your biggest challenge in business so far?
Managing peaks and troughs, which provide challenges with cash flow, and juggling school holidays. It all makes it very interesting, but we’ve learnt far more during our challenging times than we do when times are easy. We welcome the challenges now for the lessons they give us.

What are your future plans for the business?
We want to keep growing, to employ more people so they have the flexibility we do, to work with young people and start ups and encourage them to give business a go, helping others through what we’ve learnt. We also want to work with the manufacturing and bioenergy sectors as we feel our unique approach to business development and telemarketing can be a real benefit there.

If you had to do it all over again, what would you do differently?
We don’t believe in regrets; it’s been perfect as it is. Whatever was challenging we’ve learnt from. Maybe we could have invested differently – we spent a lot of money on SEO that didn’t work for example. But in essence we’re happy with how we’ve done things.

What’s the best compliment you could receive in business?
“Cre8 are the company we always turn to” Then we know we’re doing a good job from our customer’s perspective.

Why is it so important to inspire young women in particular to follow their dreams?
Because we have so many demands on us that men don’t (in business at least). We love men in suits, but they don’t (generally anyway) have the kids to think about in the same way. Women will often sacrifice their own needs for their family, but we firmly believe that being a business owner means you can be a mum and a success in your professional life at the same time. You can have it all. We’ve done it and would love to help others do the same. One of our biggest lessons has been that being yourself brings the greatest success, which is why following your dreams is imperative.

What advice would you give to somebody who wants to start a business in your industry?
Just do it. It would be so easy to sit and say “I don’t know enough”, “I haven’t got an idea”, “I don’t know what I want to do”, “I haven’t got any capital”. But business is a journey. Where you start is not where you end up. There are detours and diversions, some beautiful, some not so, but sure as eggs are eggs, getting started means you’ll evolve and develop and grow and end up somewhere else, which is better than not moving anywhere at all.

What or who inspires you in business and why?
Richard Branson. He never fails to inspire us. We love his approach to life and business, to take them by the scruff of the neck and just do it! He always seems to be himself and doesn’t aspire to be like anyone else, and that’s something we love about him, among a host of other qualities.

What is your favourite inspirational quote?
We love inspiring quotes, but one of our big favourites is “The person who says it cannot be done should not interrupt the person doing it”. It’s a Chinese proverb and we love it.

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